μεταcole

3 levels of blogger engagement strategy

Posted in all posts, blogging by coleman yee on October 4, 2009

As part of their marketing and PR strategy, many companies and their PR agencies have been courting bloggers. The basic objective is essentially the same – more publicity for the company or product.

Level 1: what’s in it for us (the company)

Whether it’s more publicity hopefully leading to more sales, or just gaining community goodwill, it’s taken for granted that the company should have something to gain through the blogger engagement.

However, if the company is working on this level alone, it can never be effective in it’s blogger engagement strategy.

It has to move to the next level…

Level 2: what’s in it for the blogger

The savvier companies are strong in this mindset. They fully understand that the blogger must have something to gain before they will engage.

This could be an event with good food and drinks and great company (other interesting bloggers), it could be a product launch where the blogger gets to be the first to try out the product that they’re interested in, or it could be some competition where the blogger has a good chance of winning fabulous prizes.

If the company’s offer is sufficiently valuable to the blogger, then there’s a good chance that the blogger will blog about it.

If this seems a little risky (“what if the blogger doesn’t blog about it?”), you can always get the blogger to agree to blog…

Agreeing to blog

Advertorials or sponsored posts come under this category, where the blogger agrees to blog about the company/product for a payment. A good and reputable blogger will always disclose to their readers if a post is sponsored, so don’t bother asking bloggers to hide the fact.

Competitions or challenges also work, where blogging about the company/product is part of the competition, e.g. the funniest post on this brand of potato chips wins.

Of recent days, we’ve also seen competitions where the contestants are a few selected bloggers agree to take part in it. Examples include the Soyjoy GI Challenge and the Blogathon.

While many of these blogger engagement attempts have been quite interesting and successful, some bloggers, particularly the most reputable ones, tend to be resistant to anything that puts them in a position where they have to agree to blog.

To reach these bloggers, companies have to think about moving on to the next level…

Level 3: what’s in it for the blogger’s readers

What companies need to be thinking a lot harder about is how they can help the blogger give more value to their readers.

Popular bloggers understand implicitly that they must provide value to their readers every time they hit the “post” button – be it informational value (wow I didn’t know that!) or entertainment value (LOL!) etc. They’ve built up their large following only because of the value they’ve been giving to their readers.

Many successful blogger engagement activities actually do give bloggers the opportunity to bring value to their readers, but these are often incidental, e.g. inviting the blogger to an exclusive unveiling of a new phone – the readers benefit by being among the first to learn about the phone.

The easiest and most obvious way to benefit the bloggers’ readers is to give out gifts or prizes through the blogger. The Soyjoy GI Challenge and Blogathon (mentioned earlier) have components of this. The Soyjoy one, for instance, had a challenge where the blogger-contestants’ readers could ask for free Soyjoy bars to be delivered to their workplaces.

Another way is to make it easier for the blogger to blog about the company/product. I’m reminded of this Canon digital camera event for bloggers, where they gave every blogger an SD card to keep. The bloggers could freely test out the cameras, saving the photos they captured in those SD cards (see this short post by Claudia.sg “Finally Someone Got It!“).

I’m sure there are many other ways that companies can think of that will not only benefit themselves, the bloggers, but also the bloggers’ readers.

And that’s really why I’m writing this – I hope this will spur more companies into paying more attention to this aspect of blogger engagement. Do let me know if you have some ideas in this. The wilder the better :)

Special thanks to my deep-thinking colleagues at Digital Boomerang who gave me this idea.

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9 Responses

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  1. Claudia said, on October 5, 2009 at 12:08 am

    Spot on! The 3 levels are nicely written and in a simple and direct manner which all companies looking at engaging the social media (bloggers) should surely look upon.

    Easy to say and write, but actually creating a campaign that will fulfill these criteria (and more) isn’t easy. And sometimes, the clients (inappropriately set) objectives make it hard for an ideal campaign to be pulled through. Its important for agencies to educate their clients on what’s doable and what to avoid when engaging the social media space.

    First thing imo, that we should all get out of our mind for social media is the numbers. Focus on the conversations and experience. If those done right, the “numbers” will eventually make sense.

  2. Daniel said, on October 5, 2009 at 1:10 pm

    Hi Coleman,

    Usually I’m skeptical when I read posts about “engaging bloggers”, but you’ve managed to string together some great concepts on blogger engagement in a clear and easy-to-understand manner. Kudos!

    With your permission, I’d like to incorporate part of the post into an upcoming social media workshop for non-profits – I’ll be sure to credit it back to you.

    What I’d like to see more is for brands to show bloggers some link love. If the blogger has written a really great, incisive (and preferable, positive) post on your brand or product, brands can, for e.g. mention the post on Twitter, send the link around to colleagues, or link it to a company blog. Aside from the additional traffic for the blogger, there’s nothing quite like positive acknowledgement of a blogger’s efforts. The goodwill can go a long way.

  3. DK said, on October 5, 2009 at 1:29 pm

    Personally, I think there is no need to worry about bloggers not blogging about the event/product/service. If the event/product/service is interesting, people will talk about it.

  4. Mohd Hisham said, on October 5, 2009 at 2:57 pm

    As per tweet, I agree with most points here and even the comments from @Claudia especially – but some organizations are very resistant to no numbers or figures because there still is no way to track blogger relations.

  5. coleman yee said, on October 5, 2009 at 3:23 pm

    @Claudia Indeed it’s easy to say and write. I’m hoping that this post would trigger more thought in the area so that we’ll see more companies coming up with better ideas in blogger engagement.

    @Daniel Please go ahead and do as you wish :) Yes I too agree that companies can give more link love. It’s just a bit more effort on their part, but it’s more than worth it.

    @DK It would be really nice if companies don’t have to worry about bloggers not blogging, but unfortunately most companies think they need to monitor things like these as it helps them make business decisions.

    @mhisham There are numbers to track blogger relations, such as mentions, links etc. Of course, whether these numbers give a complete picture or not is another question. (I hope I understood you correctly.)

  6. Mohd Hisham said, on October 5, 2009 at 3:30 pm

    Hello @Coleman,

    Yes thats about right. :) Some of the way organizations work, is asking for the expected numbers, the highs and the lows.

    Without prior experience, these figures cannot be plucked out of nowhere. So, most organizations resort to a direct comparison with the traditional media. Now, I’m not starting a comparison between either media as I believe both has its place in an organization’s outreach. But; asking for the same numbers put an unnecessary pressure on the practitioners to deliver.

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  8. [...] I end, I shall share this interesting article by a Web Shaman. This article will shed some light on how to work magic on blogger [...]

  9. Duncan Criblez said, on February 1, 2010 at 1:05 pm

    No Twitter marketing!? What’s with you man!


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